• Published 13th May 2012
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Short Cakes - Cloud Wander

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Day

GUMMY

He sat in his window, in the third floor of Sugar Cube Corner, and thought to himself, I cannot cry. A crocodile might cry, but his tears would be false. I am an alligator, proud and strong. I cannot cry. But if I could, my tears would be true. And my tears would be of joy!

There! He scurried towards the window. The GRAY PONY! First in the sky every morning, rain or sun. She flits here and there, seemingly at random. But, ha ha! I have seen the wisdom of her actions. Brave messenger, courier of smiles!

The Sun at last cleared the Cloudy Peaks and the shadow of Canterlot swept away from Ponyville. The Windmill turned in the rising breeze from the east. Turn, turn, turn; moving in serenity. One day, Gummy hoped to visit the Windmill and learn its wisdom.

Spreading below: light shimmered from the surface of the Ponyville river. Ever moving, ever changing, thought Gummy. Yet! The river binds us to this world! How I long to travel upon your shores!

Gummy stood up, startled. Hah! There! The BLUE PONY! He had, at first, thought her a product of his imagination. But see! She flashed across the horizon. So quick, so sharp! A sweeping claw against the sky! The early morning cloudiness lifted in her wake. The day brightened. The BLUE PONY was here, there, and there. Then gone.

I believe in the BLUE PONY, he thought. Others may doubt. But I believe.

The light of the Sun spread across the Ponyville market place. Ha ha! Gummy thought, looking down. There’s the ANGRY WHITE KITTY strutting away from her merry-go-round house. The ANGRY WHITE KITTY had never so much as sniffed in Gummy’s direction, but Gummy admired her any way. She is exactly who she is. I can only aspire to her completeness, he thought.

There was, of course, no sign of the ANGRY WHITE KITTY’s MAJESTIC WHITE PONY. Far too early, you understand.

As the light broadened, other familiar friends infiltrated the market place. There! Down below! The CAKES. The ponies worked in the morning, putting out their sign, filling the square with the perfume of their bakery. It seemed, to Gummy, that when the Cakes opened their shop, a wave a life spread across the town. Lights came on, doors opened, and the streets filled with citizens.

I am fortunate to dwell here, at the center of all things, thought Gummy.

There was that IVORY PONY, that sold flowers. That peculiar GREEN PONY that played happy music. The grumpy BROWN PONY that sold, what?, quills and sofas? Huh. And, oh, the BIG RED PONY and his BIG ORANGE SISTER that set up their booth, right there, every morning, selling apples.

Wait! What is this? The YELLOW PONY! She is here! Gummy scrambled across his window to look. Why is she here, so early? Oh, look, there’s a family of ducks that have lost their way! And she is guiding them to safety! There, there, that way, little ones…. Gummy pressed himself against the window, watching, until the ducks and the YELLOW PONY passed out of sight.

Gummy paused, breathing heavily. Then!

A bright peep flashed across the square, from the Library and then up, to the sky. The LITTLE PHOENIX, beloved friend of the YOUNG DRAGON, flew across the market place and, for a moment, it was as if a spark of the Sun had come to visit. The LITTLE OWL, no less bold, cried “Hoo!” in challenge and raced the LITTLE PHOENIX around the square. Fire and Mystery lived, side by side, in wisdom, in the Ponyville Library.

The PURPLE PONY poked her head out of the ancient Library Tree, called, and the DRAGON, PHOENIX and OWL fled back in answer to her command. Her power! Her power! Gummy swished his tail in wonder.

Gummy looked out of his window, three stories above Ponyville, and marveled, that his heart could be so full. My little ponies, he thought.

Suddenly, strong pink legs swept him up and he felt himself embraced by glory!

“Good morning, Gummy!” exclaimed the PRETTY PINK THING. He was held, warm, safe and loved, by the most important being in the universe.

I live in Ponyville, he thought. His heart broke, as it did every morning.

I am an alligator; I cannot cry. But if I could, my tears would be true. And my tears would be of joy!

***

CUP

Okay. Let’s get organized!

She looked about her kitchens. Carrot, bless him, was pulling fresh loaves out of the bread oven. He always looks so serious! Baking is a joy, not a challenge, dear heart. Please, smile more.

Pinkie. For the life of me, I will never understand that girl. She is the silliest, strangest, most flighty pony I’ve ever known. Yet, look at her!

Two racks of muffins, apple and raisin, were cooling. Two more, banana and cranberry, were baking. Another pair, oatmeal and cinnamon, were arranged before Pinkie. Quickly, precisely, Pinkie dropped just the right amount of mix into each muffin cup.

She is efficient, energetic and scrupulously clean. No one could ask for a better assistant baker.

It’s like there are two Pinkies, she thought. One, the obvious one, that giggles and plays like a child. And the other, the quiet one, that is calm, determined and deliberate.

Pinkie is the daughter of my heart.

Back in the day, back when Cup was afraid that she would never give Carrot a child, she was eager to take Pinkie in. Pinkie was so sweet, and so desperate to learn and to help. The dear girl always smiled.

If I can’t create a child with you, husband, she had thought. Perhaps Pinkie is enough.

But then, ha ha, the Twins. Imagine that! After all my worry, not one but two precious babies.

Where are they now? Hah! In the playroom. She looked in. Pound was, of course, obsessed with his blocks. Pumpkin appeared to be arranging a tea party with her toys.

Cup took a warm raisin muffin from the rack, put it on a plate and sliced it into sections. She put it down on Pumpkin’s tiny table. Treats for your party, sweetheart, she nodded.

Pumpkin beamed at her. Thank you, Mom!

Then Pound bumped into her. He was flying again. “Mom! Mom! Mom!” he exclaimed, as he whirled about her.

“Oh, Little Wing!” she said, gathering him out of the air. He made her heart ache. If only I could fly with him!

Lessons! Flying lessons! Must find a calm, responsible pony to teach him! Could I ask Fluttershy?

And Pumpkin! I am so sorry, my dearest, but I don’t understand unicorn magic. Maybe Twilight Sparkle would help? Oh, I must find somepony!

She put Pound down at Pumpkin’s little table. Pound took a section of raisin muffin and gnawed at it.

Pumpkin looked annoyed, at first, then resigned. Well, I guess he’s my brother, she seemed to say.

Pinkie Pie was easy, Cup thought. Children are hard. I love Pinkie, the daughter of my heart, but I love them, the children of my body, more.

She arranged her face and mane. Must stay organized! she reminded herself. Let’s go help Carrot with the bread!

***

PINKIE

She had started the morning bounding down the stairs, hardly touching a step. Her best, most beautiful friend in the whole wide world, Gummy the tiny alligator, clung to her mane for dear life.

“Here we go, Gummy! A new day in Ponyville! Whee!”

Okay! Now! The morning baking was done! Muffins! Muffins galore! Derpy and Ditzy had been the first customers, as always! Warm, fresh muffins: apple for Derpy, raisin for Ditzy. The twin gray pegasus ponies thanked her, then flew away.

I wish I could fly away, she thought. Whoa! Suppose! She pondered, furiously. Imagine if I were Pinkie Dash! Or Flutterpie! Surprise! I would be everywhere, giving smiles to everypony!

Princess Pinkie! Queen of Pinquestria! The thought made her giddy.

Still, in the kitchen, in the real world: Howdy, Mr. Cake! The bread smells great! Make muffins! Heat the stove! Stir the mix! Pour! Not too much, not too little. There, perfect. Pans in! Wait for it, don’t peek! Clean, clean, clean! Pans out! Beauty! Ah!

Is there any place better, she asked Gummy, who snuggled by her left ear, than a bakery in the morning in Ponyville? She pondered the question. No, probably not, she decided.

She wondered, if I gave a fresh, warm muffin to Spike, could he breathe on it and send it to Princess Celestia, still warm and moist? Must find out. Why should the Princesses be denied the pleasure of warm, sweet muffins, fresh from Ponyville?

She awoke from her reverie to find Mr. Davenport waiting at the counter. Looking good, Mr. D! So-fa, so good! Quill be right with you! Hee!

“Miss, are the banana muffins ready, yet?” he asked, impatiently.

Mr. Davenport, a brown, serious Earth Pony, owner of the Quills & Sofas shop, looked at her, crossly. “I asked for two,” he said.

“Sir, yes, sir!” Pinkie cried. “Fresh! Hot! Here, right here!” She carefully plucked two muffins, straight from the oven, and bagged them.

“Well, all right, then,” he said, reluctantly. He offered up the bits and collected his bag. “You know, this shop could use a few sofas. For waiting customers.”

“That’s a great idea, Mr. D!” exclaimed Pinkie. “I’ll ask Mr. and Mrs. Cake about it today!”

Mr. Davenport nodded and walked away with his purchase.

Who should I be today, Gummy? she asked her closest friend, as he nibbled on her ear. Pinkie Dash? Flutterpie? Hmmm. Think, think, think. Oh! I’m taking the Twins out. Today, of all days, I need to be someone responsible. Someone dependable.

She laughed. Of course! Who is more honest, more dependable than her dear friend Applejack?

Today, she decided, I am Apple Pie. Yee-haw! That’s what Applejack would say! Yee-haw!

Gummy did not bark or yelp or otherwise act like Winona. He clamped, companionably, to her ear. And, perhaps, he whispered, encouragingly, “Yee-haw!”

Hmmm. I’ll need a hat, Pinkie thought, frowning. A sombrero! Yes!

***

PUMPKIN

Okay! Today is a great day! Miss Pie is taking us shopping! And then, a playdate in the park! How could life get any better?

She hugged Rubber Pullet. The rubber chicken squeaked cheerfully.

They, Pumpkin and Pound, were bouncing along through Ponyville, secure in Pinkie Pie’s baby carriers. Pumpkin held Rubber Pullet up: look see! This is where we live! This is your town, Rubber Pullet!

Outside the bakery, there was the World.

Celestia’s Sun, round and warm, bathed the Ponyville Market Square with light. Why! Everypony in Equestria must be here today!

Pinkie stopped to chat with Miss Rose. Her flowers were so pretty, and they smelled so sweet. Aren’t they wonderful? Pumpkin asked Rubber Pullet. The rubber chicken quietly nodded.

And here’s Mr. Cranky! Pumpkin thought Mr. Cranky was the most ruggedly handsome pony ever! Such a stern face! Such flaring nostrils! He was buying a flower! One small flower! Why?

Ha ha! There. Mr. Cranky plodded along and wordlessly offered the flower to Miss Matilda, who smiled. Heehee! thought Pumpkin. I’ll bet they’re friends!

Then! Miss Lyra! She came by to smile at her and Pound. Her good friend, Bon Bon, nudged her and nodded. Then Lyra sang to them! Softly, quietly, Lyra sang a wordless lullaby. She blushed when she finished, then nuzzled Bon Bon. They are such good friends!

WHOA! MR. BIG MACINTOSH! Wow! He’s a giant! she thought, breathlessly, as Pinkie walked across the square. So big! So strong! And yet, so kind. As Pinkie negotiated some apples, Big Macintosh smiled shyly at the Twins.

Someday, my brother will be like you, Big Macintosh. Big. Strong. Good. Pumpkin reached across Pinkie to rub her brother’s brown mane. TBBFF.

Quit it! said Pound’s expression. He looked indignant. But he studied Big Macintosh’s every move. She smiled, knowingly. TBBFF.

Across the square, she spotted Miss Zecora! Oh, Miss Pie! Miss Pie! She jumped up and down in her harness. Go that way! Go to her!

By chance or direction, Pinkie Pie crossed the market square and hailed Zecora, the zebra.

“Hay there, Zecora! How ya’ doin’?” Pinkie asked, brightly.

Zecora stopped and smiled. “What a lovely ‘Hi!’, Miss Pinkie Pie,” she said. Her smile was beautiful, from her heart.

Look at me! Look at me, please! Pumpkin thought.

“Oh, my precious little dears! It pleases me to see you here!” she said, in her deep, mellow voice.

Pumpkin’s heart melted. In Pumpkin’s opinion, Zecora was the next best thing to Mom.

Pumpkin eagerly held out Rubber Pullet. See, Rubber Pullet? This is my friend! My good friend! Say hello!

“Who is this? This pretty hen?” asked Zecora, peering at Rubber Pullet. “Is this Pumpkin’s special friend?”

YES! Pumpkin hugged Rubber Pullet tightly.

“Squeak,” said Rubber Pullet, timidly.

Zecora thought for a moment. Then said:

“Tiny hen, watch over her.
Through night and day, you comfort her.
She loves you, as she loves herself.
You do not sit idly upon a shelf!

“You are only a rubber chicken.
Yet, through you, her love will quicken.
Love is a mirror. Through you, I expect
She will love everypony. When she reflects.”

Pumpkin had no idea what Zecora meant. But she hugged Rubber Pullet fiercely.

Pound jiggled in his harness. C’mon, let’s go!

Pinkie grinned, tipped her sombrero to Zecora, and moved on.

“Yee-haw!” she exclaimed, jiggling the Twins in their harness. “Pet Playdate in the Park! Git along, little ponies!”

***

POUND

“Pound!” shouted PINKIE. “You come back here, young colt! I’m responsible for you!”

Whee-hee-hee-hee! he thought. This! This! This is the coolest thing ever!

Pound tore across the green sward of Ponyville Park. His target? Tank! Wow! A flying tortoise! How awesome is that?! He doesn’t even have flappers! But look at him go!

Tank buzzed low across the park, under the canopy of the trees, weaving around their dark trunks.

Pound threw himself in pursuit. This is flying! This is freedom! “Yee-hee-hee-haw!” he cried. This is the best playdate ever!

Galloping far behind, clutching her sombrero, Pinkie thought miserably. I regret, now, teaching him Yee-haw!

To make matters worse (or better! Pound thought), Owloysious and Peewee sped after them. To protect them? To watch over them? No! To race them!

Heehee! They hurtled out of the park and across the plaza. Foom! Peewee blazed into the lead, swooping around the Dancing Pony Fountain.

Not to be outdone, Tank put on his fighting face and bore down, tilting his rotor towards the Windmill.

Whoop! Peewee pulled up, sharply, nearly beakplanting into a panel of the Windmill. Tank, with better timing, soared between the turning blades and back into the lead.

But here comes Pound around the outside, buzzing furiously. “Hoo-hoo!” cried Owloysious at his shoulder. Pound and Owloysious exchanged looks. Let’s go for it!

Tank, still ahead, swept around City Hall, brought himself to a hover, turned, then dove in the direction of the Carousel Boutique. But Owloysious and Pound were hot on his shell and pressed him closely as they swept by.

Where’s he headed? Where’s he headed? thought Pound. They flashed past Sugar Cube Corner. They dodged the Library. Where? Where?

As Tank’s trajectory straightened, FOOM!, Peewee was past them again!

(Cruising along behind, Rainbow Dash studied little Pound Cake critically. He’s got heart, she admitted. Not much brains. He flies straight and stupid, not thinking ahead. And not much stamina, really. She noted that the six-month-old pegasus child was starting to lag behind a phoenix, an owl and a tortoise.

(That’s my Tank, she thought to herself, smugly.

(Still. Six-month-old pegasus. Maybe it’s time for me to lend a hoof.)

They left the outskirts of Ponyville behind and darted towards Sweet Apple Acres.

(Naw. I’ll wait. This might be interesting.)

***

Granny Smith was chatting with Derpy Hooves. Gracious! This girl was a caution. She loved apples and she loved muffins. And she loved nothing so much as to sit on the porch at Sweet Apple Acres while Granny sifted through the huge sack of mail that Derpy had delivered.

Fact: the Apple family is large. Fathers, mothers, children, grandmothers, grandfathers. Uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces, nephews, second cousins! Why, there were Apples from Appleloosa to the Cloudy Peaks, from Manehatten to the Everfree.

Fact: all of the Apples loved to write to each other. Even cousins like the Oranges, Pears and Kumquats and distant relations like the Cheeses enjoyed putting quill to paper, explaining their lives and times to each other.

Fact: Granny Smith is the oldest Apple. Fact: every Apple, Orange, Pear, Kumquat and Cheese, desired her advice, approval and notice.

Fact: Sweet Apple Acres gets a lot of mail.

Derpy leaned against her mailbag. It was almost as large as she was. It is heavy, she thought to herself. But I bear it gladly, for it is full of love.

“Hehe, Braeburn!” Granny chuckled, reading one letter. “He’s always so happy an’ excited. Ah ‘member when he wuz a little ‘un. Couldn’t sit still fer a minute, nossir. Here he’s sayin’ that he an’ this Little Strong Heart are workin’ t’gether t’ make tha’, whazzis, tha’ ‘Stampedin’ Grounds,’ smoother an’ safer fer tha’ buffalo. No idea what that means, but he wuz always a good ‘un. Good heart. Good Apple.”

Something brilliant and gold boomed across the sky.

“Wuzzat, now?” exclaimed Granny Smith.

“I will protect you, Granny,” said Derpy Hooves, automatically, standing, spreading her gray wings.

“Per’tect me? Framwhat?” Granny complained.

“From the peril in the air,” said Derpy Hooves, her golden eyes looking up.

***

Trees! Lots of trees! thought Pound excitedly.

Okay! he decided. In a clear sky, no one can match Peewee. The little phoenix was, Pound admitted grudgingly, the fastest thing in the sky.

But down here? Among the apple trees? Heh! Tank moved like a snake, in and around. Owloysious seemed to think three moves ahead. No matter how fast Peewee was, or how maneuverable Tank was, Owloysious was always just there, at the point between first and third.

And Pound?

I’m so tired, he admitted to himself, flapping with all his might. Peewee! I think he’s younger than me, but the sky loves him! He’s so fast!

I’m not as smart as Owloysious. Or as strong as Tank.

But I have guts! I have determination! Pound grimaced and dove forward, heedless.

Weave. Weave! Turn! Duck! Stupid apple trees. Don’t go around! Plow through, plow through! Leaves and branches slapped at him, but he drove on. Gaining! Gaining! Oh, that stupid owl! Why are his tail feathers always in front? C’mon, Pound! Show your stuff!

Suddenly: what’s that ahead? A wall! Avoid! No!

***

The Crusader Clubhouse, Sweet Apple Acres.

He awoke and saw his sister. Standing over him. Glaring furiously. And weeping. Pumpkin?

In her eyes, the message was plain, you are, without question, the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.

He wanted to tell her that everything was all right. He struggled up. Ow! Pain in his head! Worse, pain in his wings!

“Shussh, shussh, shussh, lay still, Little Wing.” Mom?

Now Mom was above him. Tears in her eyes. Mom! I will help you! Let me get up!

Dad was there, holding him close. “Don’t move, son. Please. Don’t move.”

He lay back, quietly, worried. Why is everypony so sad?

Somepony, a stranger, was touching his head, his neck, his wings. The stranger, at last, sat back on his haunches and sighed.

“Nothing broken,” he announced, closing his medical bag with a snap. “Minor lacerations of his forelegs. Bruises. Large abrasion on his scalp. But no concussion. No damage to his spine. Or his wings. He was lucky, this time. Still,” he said, frowning very seriously at Pound, “in the future, I would advise you against smashing headlong into treehouses, young colt.”

Mom caressed Pound, sobbing. Dad cradled him.

Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash, outside the Clubhouse, seemed consumed with grief, each trying to console the other.

Pound searched and found his sister, huddled in a corner of the Clubhouse. She stood rigidly with her back to him.

Mom, Dad, Pinkie Pie and even Rainbow Dash apologized to him. We should have stopped you. We let you go too far. Owloysious, Peewee and Tank looked on, sorrowfully.

But Pumpkin. Pumpkin was enraged. She turned, looked down on him and glared. I hate you, brother, her look said. You have hurt me! And I hate you!

And she ran from him, crying.

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